The Second to Last Night at Skank's
d. boon's Death as Childhood's End
by michael mccullough
i'm waiting and diversing i'm collecting...diversing information... liberation... bob
dylan wrote propaganda songs! bob dylan wrote propaganda songs! manifesto on
my window and my fruit... rotation...admiration...outline my root... bob dylan
wrote propaganda songs!
bob dylan wrote propaganda songs / minutemen
d. boon died december 22, 1985, age 26.
Monday, December 29, 1985
We were driving across Western Minnesota fascinated by the topography of the frozen wetlands and singing along to "Double Nickels on the Dime." Our pant legs were warm and wet once again. While we were hiking they had frozen solid to form nice stiff windbreakers. We saw an eagle. Seeing an eagle always seems sort of special like some sort of symbol. Majestic Scavenger. It was some sort of Christmas vacation from the hospital. At the time I was a first year resident in Podiatry and was in transistion between two different hospitals in Ohio. I took a week off to visit my friend Krebs and to pick up my girlfriend Pauline (my current ex-wife) to move her with me to Ohio.
Our next stop was New Ulm. This is where Pauline lived with her family. New Ulm a stylized German town in Minnesota that looks like some sort of village set from the original film version of Frankenstein. When we pulled into town we expected to see the enraged townspeople running about with torches and wooden pitchforks. Little hats and lederhosen. We were puffing on the last two King Edward cheapo cigars. This was a sort of inside joke since neither of us smoked.
hey ice machine - will you cut me? thin line - cut! big scissors - cut! cut loose -cut!
bend - tense! big scissors-snap! cut!
cut / minutemen
Back in New Ulm we had pizza at Happy Joe's. Some sort of Minnesota style pizza with sauerkraut and pineapples. There was a Christmas gift giving session which involved the usual moleskin trousers. Then we bought a case of skunky, cheap beer and headed over to Pauline's sister's house. It is funny that that local skunky Schell's beer, that cost something like four bucks a case back then, is now considered a prestigious beer here in the West. Jyneal was the director of a group homehouse for mentally handicapped adults and had an apartment on the top floor of the house. We drank the beer and listened to all her Elvis Costello albums. It was the closest thing to punk that she had in her collection.
We had to get out of that place. Just being in the same town with my future in-laws was stifling. New Ulm. That town is a sealed tuna sandwich. We were going to make a pilgrimage to Mankato, about an hour away, and go to the second to the last night in the existence of Skank's Nightclub.
One wouldn't expect to find a punk bar in a small town in rural Minnesota, but there was Skank's. It was right downstairs from the New Deal Cafe where the daily blue plate special was served on paper plates. We had been there exactly a year ago and when we walked in most of the people there remembered us. Although we didn't really recognize most of the people, we remembered the bartender, Greg. He said, "Yeh I remember you guys, you're doctors and lawyers and stuff, right? Yeh, I was telling people about you guys." (Actually we were "student" doctors and lawyers at the time, but what's the difference?)
While we continued to drink beer and become moderately drunk Greg let us play the tapes we had brought in from the truck. All our favorite songs. We screamed out the lyrics to "She Said," by the Cramps. Skank's was going to go out of business in two days so the place had an extra tense party now or never atmosphere. We were "punking out" (now called "moshing"?) and sweating beer to Minutemen, Husker Du and Dead Kennedies tapes. Husker Du at one time had actually played a gig at Skank's, and it wasn't before they were popular, it was at the height of their popularity. This is wild because that place was a basement that could hold a hundred people at full capacity. Huskers had played the punk symphonies "Recurring Dreams" and "Dreams Recurring" in their entirety. Although we had only been to Skank's twice it was our favorite bar.
Tim Liszt, my ex-girlfriend's little brother (now grown twice his childhood size) was there. He was a regular at Skank's and the local expert on punk. Could it have been my Ramones albums? The ones he had to listen to over and over while in his formative years?
We stayed until last call. The walls of Skank's were covered with d.i.y artwork, most of it drawn by the dairy-punks drinking at the bar. On the way out I grabbed a picture of "triangle man." A nice souvenir. Everybody was tearing stuff off the walls as they left. We had planned on returning on New Year's Eve for the real last night of Skank's, but we never made it. We needed to get back to Ohio.
We drove Tim home and stopped in at the Liszt's to sit shit-faced at the kitchen table and talk to his dad, Merle. He was wondering what the hell we were doing there, but he didn't seem to mind. I was behind the wheel on the drive back to New Ulm that could have been a M.A.D.D. commercial. We were playing "The Politics of Time," on the crackling cassette player, the three of us shouting out the words with the same manic rapture found on the album and we nearly creamed a deer. Oh shit!
sometimes the news is like a loud hum in my amplifier; it rings my head out like a
filthy wash cloth with little folds, thousands of little folds // shit you here at
parties; kick in the idiot box, wait for the news in the history books, like junkies
who hate their heroin
shit you hear at parties / minutemen
No problem. No problem. We woke the next day, New Year's Eve with terrible hangovers one day early. Our goal was a giant breakfast. At the Village Cafe I was wearing Krebs' dark dark dark beatnik sunglasses while he practiced his budding litigation skills and managed to get us breakfast privileges even though we were technically twenty minutes past the eleven o'clock breakfast limit. But they were going to turn the grill back on for us! Victory.
Even though we were too hung over, and it was even more incredibly cold than usual for Minnesota during Ice Age, I mean Winter, we went hiking all day at Flandrau State Park. I had to brace myself for the upcoming encounter with Pauline's parents, and I was not looking forward to that.
You see, we were planning on "living together" in Ohio and they were not pleased about this at all. It was a major devastating event in their lives and they were not planning on letting me out of that town without substantial torture. They wanted us to get married. They wanted us to be priest-blessed and have dawgy collars around our necks (and not the kind I used to wear while aping Sid Vicious during the Sex Pistols era) and eat our vegetables and be good little dawgies. They wanted us to get a job. To be adults. Ack! Ack! Ack!
My attitude was, "Fuck that! Not me! Not now anyway! Not yet!" I was totally unprepared for the event and since I have always avoided confrontation anyway, I was trying to keep away from them. And I thought that by keeping Krebs around until we left that I might avoid a major showdown. That plan flopped.
"Does Michael need his lawyer present at all times?" he growled, glaring at Krebs. Well, it was time.
Krebs left with an expression on his face that said: I don't really take this as an insult because I am glad to get the chance to ease my ass out of here, see you later Michael, you poor devil.
After an hour of "what for" I left with the daughter, whom I eventually was married to and six years later divorced from and of course I never again would have what could be called a chummy relationship with her folks. It was the most uncomfortable hour of my life and I would hold a grudge for the rest of our time as family members. One of those situations that everybody has to go through, when you have to tell parents "no." Would you believe, though, that I didn't hold a grudge because of the way they confronted us about getting married. That's only natural for them to feel that way. It was the way they kicked Krebs out of their house. I was never to forget that..
forced fed sifted tin can turn handle puppet (pull toy)
mr robot's holy orders / minutemen
That evening, New Years Eve 1985, found us driving across Wisconsin to my parents house in Chicago, and then on to our new home in Ohio. I think the uncomfortable debacle in New Ulm fortified us and brought us close. We were driving completely sober on the drunkest night of the year.
The cassette player had finally crapped out so we couldn't play our beloved punk tapes. Instead we dialed around for college radio stations and right in the middle of that speed trap of a state we found one. They played a remarkably slow (and torturously boring) Dave Brubeck piece but we kept the station tuned in because we refused to listen to regular pop radio stations. The college DJ came on and apologized for playing that song. Evidently he wasn't all that familiar with Brubeck and didn't know which tunes were the better ones. Then he went on to announce that d. boon had died in a car crash. I was stunned at the news. He played "The Cheerleaders" from the "Project Mersh" album. I'll admit that at that time "Cheerleaders" wasn't exactly my favorite minutemen tune, a little slower than most of their stuff, but it served as an excellent epitaph for d.
If I ever really had a hero d. boon was it. Behind the label of "punk" (whatever the hell that means / meant) he had a powerful sense of social justice, and morality, and beauty. I only knew him through his work, I never knew him personally. I guess I had my own self-created image of d. boon. For example, I felt like an outsider, he seemed to me like an outsider also. The Minutemen's music seemed like a manifestation of all that energy and fear and joy that I felt bubbling inside of me at that time. The songs were powerful and short, with the manic rambling that is, to me, the essence of beat poetry and the succinct beauty and power that was something like a cross between the finest haiku and some sort of firecracker.
After it was clear that the DJ was not going to play any more Minutemen songs we turned the radio off. A rare thing for us: quiet. I wanted to let it soak in. Tears welled up. It was all sort of coming to me. Not just d. boon dying, but the whole new scene that we were facing me. A new home in a new state, the advancement of our relationship from boyfriend girlfriend to what would eventually become marriage, the prospect of not being a student any longer and having to actually get a job, all that.
And all the shit that I knew was going to go with all that.
A little while later the clouds and the moon formed what was a distinct skull in the sky. We both saw it and were struck by its detail. The damn thing covered half the Eastern sky. It lingered for a minute or so and then morphed into what looked like a giant face, a grinning man with a sombrero. We named him "Pedro the Farmer." I know we did because I had written that in my journal. But I am not sure if we even remembered that d. boon was from San Pedro.
is it peace to point the guns? is it war to fire the guns? we would run with all of
our might, push the king off to take the hill and to learn who was king and who
made the better serf.
king of the hill / minutemen
fin fin The MinutemenHusker DuDave BrubeckSid ViciousThe CrampsThe Dead Kennedies